Dream: Be Indian surf champ!

Have you thought your childhood fantasy impossible? Oh ye of little faith!

From the Times of India…

MANGALORE: The Surfing Federation of India, the sport’s national governing body, has announced the launch of the second edition of the Indian Open of Surfing.

The two-day event is set to get underway at Mangaluru’s Sasihithlu Beach from May 26.
Ishita Malaviya, Tanvi Jagdish, Manikandan, Murthy Megavan and Dharani will be among the top Indian surfers to compete at the event.

Indian Open of Surfing president Kishore Kumar said, “Over the years surfing has gained the stature of an important sport especially in the coastal villages of the country. It has become a way of life for the fishermen communities.

“With the rise in number of participants expected at the Indian Open of Surfing, it is certain that we are looking at a better wave of surfers coming out. We are expected to see better competition.”

Though the competition will see a few international surfers like Maldivian Ismail Miguel in the open category, it will be interesting to see how the Indians fare.

And be honest right now. Be way super honest. If you happened to be in Mangalore with a few hours to kill and, inexplicably, your favorite surfboard do you think you could take the Indian Open of Surfing?

Are you racist for feeling that way?


But also, I think I could. Chas Smith surf champ! Do you think Mick Fanning would finally talk to me? Or even look at me?

He still totally wouldn’t. What a racist!

Don't worry Kelly! You're among friends! You won't get sucked out to sea and end up in a Belfast hospital!
Don't worry Kelly! You're among friends! You won't get sucked out to sea and end up in a Belfast hospital!

Rip Current Rory: “Ok! I’ll surf again!*”

The Scottish survivor changes his tune but with one caveat!

Do you recall the thrilling tale of the Scottish surfer who survived a mid-morning session at his local Scottish break and then got in a rip and sucked all the way to Ireland? 32 hours bobbing and paddling and thinking he was going to die.

But he didn’t die and, resting comfortably in a Belfast hospital, told his mother that he would never surf again. The sentiment, of course, makes great logical sense though I must admit to being taken aback when reading of the bold assertion and opined how most of us are so rottenly besotted to this surfing that we will never give it up even when in our interest. Even when we should.

Like opioid addicts!

Well, it warmed my heart this morning to read that dear Rip Current Rory has changed his tune and is thinking about getting back on the Oxys! I mean board! Let’s read together in the Belfast Telegraph.

A surfer rescued in the North Channel after more than 30 hours stranded at sea has revealed he may return to the sport.

Matthew Bryce (22) has been treated for hypothermia after he was found drifting on his surfboard 13 miles from Northern Ireland and 16 miles from Scottish shores.

Following his ordeal he vowed never to surf again, but has now said he may get back on a surfboard as part of a group.

And that’s almost the spirit! Group surfing is better than no surfing at all.

Or is it?

Never mind. It is.

(*as part of a group)

The best ever? | Photo: Dick Hoole

Book Review: Sean Doherty’s ‘MP’

The King of Kirra!

It only took me six months, but I’ve finally closed Sean Doherty’s MP: The Life of Michael Peterson. The book is a biographical homage to Australia’s enigmatic surf hero, Michael Peterson.

A summary:

Michael’s life was the product of a harrowing assault. A three-man gang-rape against 19-year-old Joan Peterson. Joan kept the truth of Michael’s origins a secret for most of his life, to “protect him”.

Despite MP’s ill begotten conception, the man was destined for greatness. A physical specimen and handsome to boot, young MP plowed his way through hordes of Australia’s barely-legal beauties. He continued this trend into his late-twenties.

But in the grand scheme of things, women were tertiary on Michael’s list of favorite pastimes. There was an unbreakable tie for first between surfing and marijuana. The weed calmed his mind while the surfing electrified his soul.

Michael’s performances at his home break were revolutionary to the point that he became known as the King of Kirra. Not long after, he was considered the best surfer in Australia, and briefly, the world.

While Michael’s successes grew his legend, they also spawned his demons. Contest winnings meant money for drugs, and weed quickly became an insufficient high. At the time the Goldcoast was in the midst of a minor heroin explosion, and Michael lived well within the blast radius.

And while dope is enough to do most people in, for Michael, the worst side effect was the awakening of a sleeping giant — schizophrenia.

The downfall of Michael Peterson was a long and and grueling process. He got worse, he got better, then got worse again but the trajectory was always trending downward. Eventually Michael went to jail, then a psych ward, then his mom’s house, then a bunch of other psych wards then his mom’s house again. He died in 2012 at the age of 60.

This is a very very VERY condensed version of Doherty’s tale but surely you get the gist. Incredibly talented and troubled man takes on the world and goes down swinging. Wonderful!

I found this telling of MP’s life story to be extremely honest and thorough. No one could accuse Doherty of over-writing the biography, as it falls into a very simplistic structure and diction, but he concluded the book beautifully. Tied together all the loose ends and showed his true ability as a thinker and scribe.

If you’re looking for a mind-blowing piece of literature, this book is not for you. If you want to learn a shitload about Australian surfing history and the man the Mick Fanning calls God, read MP.

Now, there’s just one thing I must get off my chest.

Pretty much everyone in the book says MP was the best surfer they’d ever seen. That his speed and tube riding and carves were entirely unmatched. To this day, Michael is considered maybe the best to ever ride Kirra. Yet, whenever I see videos of MP, he looks… very average. Off-balance and erratic. Not someone I’d care to watch surf.

I realize it was a different time period with different standards, but I can easily appreciate the abilities of same-era surfers MR and Rabbit Bartholomew.

So am I blind or stupid or all three?

Just in: Surfer Dies at Sandon Point

Man dragged dead from water at popular righthander.

If you’re on Australia’s south-east coast right now, you’re being lit by a fine six-to-eight-foot swell. A south-west wind, which is offshore in these parts, is keeping the dirt off before the expected sea breeze at noon.

A little size can have its drawbacks, however.

Earlier this morning, a surfer was pulled from the water at Sandon Point, a long, B-plus righthander near Wollongong. Other surfers saw the man, who was sixty five, floating face down in the water at 7:15 am and dragged him to the beach over one of surfing’s more difficult rock exits.

Despite resuscitation attempts, the man died at the scene. The cause of death is unknown. i.e. heart attack, hit by his board etc.

Whenever I hear about these events, I’m struck by a couple of feelings. Likely, the guy’s got a wife and grown kids, whose own lives have suddenly changed forever. Very sad.

But I also get a sense that, what, sixty-five, well, that ain’t a bad run. And better to die embraced by the ocean than confusedly wandering the halls of a dementia unit thirty years hence.

Oh the brevity of life.

As Seneca wrote a couple of thousand years ago: “You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” 

World’s most surprising school!

Feat. sandwiches, sunscreen, rash guards and...... guess who else?

Magazine writers from the majors and mid-majors (Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, etc.) generally attend surf schools at least every other year around summer time and then publish stories of their learnings. I have never once been surprised by one of these stories until I read Jennifer Kester’s newest offering in this week’s Forbes. Would you like to be surprised too? Let’s read together!

My goal was minimal: Don’t drown. Sure, it was a low bar to set, but during the drive from the new Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina on the west coast of the island to meet my surf instructor on the northern part, I envisioned best-case scenarios that included slipping on the board and cracking my head. I didn’t even care if I managed to stand up on the board.

While I’m an adequate swimmer, I had never climbed on a surfboard and wasn’t sure that my first time should be in the same waters that draw professional surfers worldwide to participate in competitions as fierce as the waves.

For added pressure, my instructor was Makua Rothman, the World Surf League’s 2015 Big Wave world champion. He entered his first surf contest when he was three years old, at 18 caught a 66-foot wave to win the Billabong XXL World Challenge and at 23 scooped up the O’Neill World Cup and the World Tow-In title.

His connection to the water and land goes further than his many accomplishments. The 32-year-old was born for this: his full first name is Makuakai, which means “guardian of the sea,” and he’s the 12th great-grandson of King Kamehameha, the ruler who first united all of the Hawaiian Islands into a single kingdom.

It was inevitable that I would embarrass myself in front of one of the sport’s best athletes. Why wasn’t I paired with a kiddie instructor?

What a fabulous turn! Makua Rothman, the 12th great-grandson of King Kamehameha and, more impressively, oldest son of the great Eddie Rothman playing the role of hunky surf stud! Let’s read a little more!

Next, I waited belly down on the board next to Rothman for the right wave. As I relaxed on the board over the undulating waves and chatted, I almost forgot why I was there. Then Rothman suddenly yelled, “Go!”

I scrambled and started paddling, and as I felt the wave lift me up, I clumsily hoisted myself onto the board. Almost slipping, I somehow regained my balance and then firmly planted my feet in the position with my arms outstretched, as Rothman showed me. I rode the gentle wave, and it was exhilarating.

It all happened so fast, I didn’t get a chance to overthink my movements. And after the wave unfurled, I ungracefully crumbled into the water. But I was astounded that I surfed on my first try. In just minutes, it was over. I was done as far as I was concerned.

Then Rothman sidled up beside me on his surfboard and said, “Great job! Next time, you’ll ride the wave all the way to the shore.”

Next time? I was dumbstruck. Didn’t he realize that was just a fluke?

It goes on and is brilliant in that it is completely unexpected. And you should finish it all here all by yourself!